serendipitous reflections

Friday, February 29, 2008

Deciphering the questions

Sometimes as a doctor you have to try to decipher what the patient is actually asking. When we were in school, we were told what a "hitch in my giddeyup" meant, and thank goodness, because I hear that a lot. And I know that if "Arthur is visiting," their arthritis is flared up, or "sore as a risin" is sore as a painful pimple. So today an older black patient said, "What good for a gum ball?" She had to ask me about three times, because I wasn't tracking. You see, I lost my voice last night*, and am having the hardest time discussing things with my patients, so when she said, "What good for a gum ball," I started thinking all kinds of things. First, I thought, maybe she's offering an old country remedy for losing my voice, suck on a gum ball and it'll help relieve the lost voice. But I ruled that out. So I started going through possible answers ... Don't chew gum, it's hard on your TMJ, not great for your teeth, choking hazard. Then it occurs to me, gum ball -- "You mean an ulcer on your gum?" "Yeah, a gum ball." Well, duh.

*As for losing my voice, it's such a pain, and I blame Nikki because we had such a good time visiting last weekend that we stayed up late (2-3 a.m. each night) and I wore myself down, then my sinuses flared up and drained into my throat, causing me to lose my voice. So now I have to explain, with no voice, that, no, I am not sick, and that it's just a sinus thing, and it's OK, I'll have my voice back tomorrow, but thank you for your concern -- all this without a voice to begin with. The saddest part is we weren't even partying, no drinking, just sitting up talking and enjoy the company. If I'm going to wear myself down like this, at least let there be a party.



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